Updated: Sep 3, 2020
By Jack Bornyan @thetherapistsjournal_
Resilience, you might have heard of it, but what is it and how can we foster it within ourselves and our kids?
Firstly, resilience involves the experience of any adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress in your journey through life. Another term used is ‘bouncing back’, and as much as resilience involves this action from these difficult life experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth. Becoming a resilient individual will not only allow you to get through difficult circumstances if they were to present themselves over and over, it allows the individual to feel empowered and implement changes that will enhance quality of life.
Secondly, resilience isn’t necessarily a personality trait that only some people possess. Resilience involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that anyone can learn and develop. This can be achieved through caregivers, educators, therapists. Even though this might sound like a simple concept to some, this process, like any other requires time and effort. Another way of thinking about this is, training a muscle group in the gym, it doesn’t happen overnight, so therefore the journey is persistence, application, reassessing, application and so on. With any goal we have in life, there are going to be certain areas in our lives that will need trimming.
Surrounding yourself amongst empathic and understanding people (others who have possibly been through what you have experienced) can be an encouraging and comforting way to process your emotions. Although we can learn from other people’s mistakes, who’s to say that grieving a certain way is not going to work for you (within reason). This is where application and reassessing come in. If your child is experiencing new emotions that they are unable to name due to an event they experienced, providing them reassurance, space, time and encouragement to process these feelings while monitoring them will enhance their cognitive competence. Children will retain the bodily sensations of that emotion and anytime those similar sensations appear, they will have a healthy outlet for expression.
Self-care, as we all know is extremely important for our physical and mental wellbeing and will be different for everyone. What works for some, might not work for others however, trying is key. As much as humans don’t like change, due to us being creatures of habit, sometimes we need to break free from that mould and step outside our comfort zone in order to develop change. In our current climate being COVID-19, restrictions are placed on us where we are permitted to live outside our norm. As hard as it may be to hear or obey if you will, these new set of rules, there is comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
Look at how far you have come this year. We are almost to the end of the year, and for some it might have been difficult juggling kids schedules including remote learning, parents required to still work as they are classified as “essential works”, entertaining the kids on the weekend and the list could go on. For others, with those who I have maintained contact with, their mental and physical wellbeing has never been better. It differs for everyone, it’s a scale and where you sit on it is nothing to be ashamed of.
Working within your capacity and not comparing yourself to others on social media, other mothers and fathers or comparing your children against other children is going to be your best friend. Self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-compassion are all things that we need within ourselves in order to decrease unhelpful thoughts. We can all have moments of weakness, I myself can put my hand up and say I have, what I have found helpful is writing my thoughts as I think them, pro’s and con’s list, walking, playing video games. These are all activities I can do on my own, and mostly because I need to process my thoughts on my own to self-develop, then I will ask for assistance of others to be my sound board.
That process is independent, but it works for me. Others might need to talk things through straight away and that is great also. There is no right or wrong way that I or anyone else can say you need to do things, although there are guidelines as to what is healthy vs unhealthy coping strategies. You want to engage in activities or surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you, encourage you along your journey, involve you, activities that stimulate your brain such as exercise, painting, drawing, reading or writing.
What I have done with my younger clients in the past, is created a list of fun and safe activities that they can engage in when they are feeling sad, moderate, angry or lost. This type of list can be created and left in a accessible location for kids/students, mums/dads, therapists/teachers etc, when someone is in need of focusing inward to process their feelings. Engaging with your kids during this process, communicating to them, inviting them to do an activity with you will contribute to social engagement, self-regulation, learning new behaviours, develop insight and self-awareness and overall general wellbeing.
For more information on resilience, check out the following article: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231842385_What_is_resilience_A_review_and_concept_analysis
For an article which includes '10 ways to build resilience,' check out the following link: https://www.uis.edu/counselingcenter/wp-content/uploads/sites/87/2013/04/the_road_to_resilience.pdf
For worksheets on resilience, check out the following link: https://positivepsychology.com/resilience-activities-worksheets/
About The Author:
Jack runs an instagram page called @thetherapistsjournal_ where he shares great information & quotes on mental health. Jack is coming to the end of his third year of his Bachelor of Counselling and will be commencing a Graduate Certificate of Psychology in 2021. His interests include working with children & adolescents, ACT Therapy, Identify Crises, and the LGBTQIA+ community.